A Sense of Gothic Expressed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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A Sense of Gothic Expressed in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

The term ‘Gothic’ has many forms. Its origins go back to the medieval period and can be seen in architecture such as Westminster Abbey in London and the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. It can also be applied to art in the works of Hieronymus Bosch who’s grotesque and haunting imagery depicted ugly distorted humans who are morally degenerate and depraved, and to William Blake who visualised Dante’s Divine Comedy. In literature, the Gothic novel is credited as starting with Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, (1764) which characterised most of what would become the essential ingredients in the Gothic genre. I will for the purpose of this assignment discuss what constitutes ‘Gothic’ in Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein novel.

Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus was first published in London in 1818 and again with an edited edition in 1831. It was a novel of its time in respect to its romantic style of flamboyant and extravagant characters, which are placed in mysterious, remote and exotic settings. Shelly’s ‘hideous progeny’ of a novel was largely inspired by her own tragic personal circumstances which saw the untimely death of her mother, half-sister who committed suicide and the death of two of her daughters, one of which died two weeks after a premature birth. Shelly’s nightmarish vision during a tremendous thunderstorm while on vacation at the villa Diodati at Lake Geneva had a profound effect on ...
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